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OML in December Questions

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Offline ncthom

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  • 4
OML in December Questions
« on: June 07, 2019, 08:45:23 AM »
Hey everyone,
Me and my girlfriend are pretty active hikers in the Houston area, but we want to try out the OML in BB in mid December. Sorry if these questions have been asked before (they probably have) but I just wanted to know a few things.
1. How easily available is water to purify that time of year, called the ranger station and asked when I visited last year but got differing answers.
2. Where would you recommend starting if you want to be able to do South Rim and Emory Peak as well.
3. How hard is it to get a permit that time of year, I assume it's somewhat busy?


Offline dprather

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  • 2610
Re: OML in December Questions
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2019, 09:21:07 PM »
I'm in the Houston area too.  I am always surprised by the low humidity and the unpredictable weather.  I have done the OML in 90-degree Decembers and also enjoyed snow on the OML in December.

Your December question is really two questions - there is December apart from the holidays and December that is part of the holidays.

The Bend is generally without too many people other than at times when school is out.  Thus, the first half of December ought to be pretty open.  Things begin closing down as schools close down for the holidays and families and college kids begin their travels.

Generally speaking (there are always exceptions) you'll have two water sources for sure; (i) the pipe at Boot Canyon, and (ii) Fresno Creek.

The OML has many starting points and all can accommodate your interest in the South Rim and Emory.  These are in the High Chisos and enjoying them is worth adding a full day to your itinerary.

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.


Offline House Made of Dawn

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
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  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
OML in December Questions
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 10:17:19 PM »
Iíve done many long multi-day hikes in BiBe in December. Water has ALWAYS been abundantly available at the two spots mentioned by dprather: Fresno Creek and Boot Canyon (in the case of the latter: not always from the springís outlet pipe but at least in the nearby pools both up and downstream). Another nearly 100% reliable source is Upper Juniper Spring, partway along and slightly off the Juniper Canyon Trail. Water should not be a problem.

Weather is completely unpredictable: anything between the teens and the nineties is possible; could be dry, could rain, could hail and snow.  Mostly though, itís usually nice.

A four day trip should provide plenty of time to complete the OML and explore the Rim and Emory. I always recommend starting at Homer Wilson Ranch (going either clockwise or counterclockwise: both have merits) and skipping the Basin and The Pinnacles. But if your heart is set on climbing Emory Peak, it might actually make sense to start and end in the Basin and do Emory when you pass by its trailhead at the top of The Pinnacles. There is a metal box there for storing full-size backpacks while you hike the peak.

Crowds and permits should be zero problem as long as you go after Thanksgiving week and before Christmas week.

Good luck!

Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 10:23:51 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."


Offline steelfrog

  • Mountain Lion
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  • 1689
Re: OML in December Questions
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2019, 12:31:15 PM »
Basically, you can always get a camp spot up in the Chisos; obviously some are more desireable than others, but if nothing else you can snag one of the Colimas.

A nice itinerary would be to start at HW early, hump up Blue Creek (4-5 hours at a reasonable pace); stash your stuff at either a Colima or Boot Canyon camp spot (frankly I prefer the Colimas, less traffic); then light dayhike and do Emory, then the Rim catch the sunset up there, esp the SW rim, then back to your spot for the night.  Then the next day down Juniper and halfway (or all the way) across Dodson.  Going down Juniper is no big thing, what 3 hours?  Then Dodson 11 miles.

I have always found "emergency" water at the Dodson/Juniper junction.  And in my case, it WAS a damn emergency!



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